Ethan Kollie, a pro gun rights car salesman described by prosecutors as a friend of Dayton mass shooter Connor Betts, is accused of lying on a federal firearms form, and a complaint accuses him of buying items – including body armor and an upper receiver for an AR-15 – that Betts used in the massacre.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, released on August 12, 2019, “Today the government is unsealing charges against a friend of Connor Betts for allegedly lying on federal firearms forms.” Kollie is named in Montgomery County jail records and a federal complaint and arrest warrant. Kollie is 24-years-old and is in custody, according to jail records reviewed by Heavy.
The arrest warrant and complaint accuse Kollie of possession of a firearm by an unlawful user/addict of a controlled substance and making a false statement regarding firearms. He has not been accused of advance knowledge, or participation in, the massacre. Both Betts and Kollie attended Sinclair College in the past, according to LinkedIn pages.
In a press conference, federal authorities said they were announcing the arrest of Ethan Kollie.
“Although these charges have arisen out of the investigation into the shooting that took place…Mr. Kollie does not stand accused of intentionally participating in the planning of that shooting. We have no evidence of that,” U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said, adding that Kollie faces a maximum term of 15 years in prison. He said Kollie and Betts had known each other since at least 2014.
Heavy reached out to Kollie’s attorney for a statement. Nick Gounaris, his attorney, provided this statement:
“Like everyone else, we watched the press conference held by the United States Attorney. Although we will not discuss the two pending criminal charges against our client, we do want to respond to comments made during the press conference. Prior to his arrest on August 9th, Mr. Kollie participated in three separate interviews with federal authorities in order to provide helpful information to aid investigators. He does not deny his friendship with Connor Betts and he was as shocked and surprised as everyone else that Mr. Betts committed the violent and senseless massacre in the Oregon District. We appreciate the United States Attorney stating that there was no indication that Mr. Kollie knew that he was assisting Betts in the shooting.”
Kollie is active on social media and posted a photo of himself at a shooting range. He also indicated opposition to banning the AR-15 weapon back in 2018. He wrote another Twitter user that year: “Thank god you have the constitutional right to carry a gun to defend yourself…. oh wait nvm UC took that right from you.”
It’s not clear how he meant the above tweet; a friend replied with a basketball shooting graphic. Kollie’s tweets dealt with other commentary at times; he wrote, “Nothing like white liberals telling black people how to act and think. They’re not racist, though.” He directed a tweet toward Shannon Watts, of the anti gun violence group Moms Demand, copying the NRA: “Stop trying to strip people of their rights. We won’t stand for it.”
The complaint alleges that he helped Betts hide the body armor and weaponry elements from Betts’ parents.
Kollie had interacted with Betts on Twitter in the past and tweeted after the Dayton mass shooting.
Connor Betts was the Dayton gunman who killed nine people, including his own sibling, and injured many more outside an Ohio bar. Betts was a member of a “Pornogrind” band, a self-described leftist, and former high school classmates say Betts was a frightening bully with a hit list. However, authorities have yet to reveal a specific motive for the attack.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ethan Kollie Is Accused of Buying Body Armor & Parts of Weapons for Connor Betts
The complaint says that Ethan Kollie acknowledged purchasing Betts the following items used in the mass shooting by Betts: Body armor; the upper receiver of the AR-15 weapon, and the 100-round double drum magazine.
Kollie allegedly said that he purchased the items for Betts and stored them in Kollie’s apartment “to assist Betts in hiding them from Betts’ parents.”
About 10 weeks ago, while in Kollie’s apartment, “Kollie watched and helped Betts assemble the AR-15 weapon used by Betts in the August 4, 2019 shooting in Dayton,” the complaint says. “Kollie indicated that upon arrival of the drum magazine approximately 6 to 8 weeks ago, Betts retrieved the assembled weapon, including the drum magazine and took possession of it and the body armor at that time.”
According to Montgomery County Jail records, Ethan Kollie was booked in the jail at 7:50 p.m. on August 9, 2019. He is being held on a “weapons violation” with a federal detainer, jail records show. The arresting agency was listed as the U.S. Department of Justice, and the location of arrest was given as Colonel Glenn, Beavercreek.
The motive for the mass shooting remains unclear. Assistant Chief Matt Carper, of the Dayton PD, said previously that police are investigating to see what Betts’ “possible motivation might have been. The suspect was firing a long gun with multiple rounds at the victims.” One survivor described seeing bodies falling in the line to get into the bar.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said previously that Connor Betts was wearing a mask, bullet proof vest and hearing protection. The .223 caliber rifle was equipped with 100 round drum magazines. Biehl said the rifle used in the shooting was ordered online in Texas, but transferred to the suspect at a local firearms dealer. A shotgun was also bought from another local firearms dealer. Biehl said there was nothing in Betts’ “history or record that would have precluded him” from owning the guns. And he said the drum magazines were also legal.
Biehl said the suspect’s vehicle was parked a few blocks away from where the shooting occurred. He fired his first shots and killed his first victim in an alleway near Blind Bob’s bar and then entered Fifth Street, where he shot and killed eight more victims, including his sister, near Ned Peppers before he was fatally shot by police. Several other people were injured. The wounds ranged from gunshots to injuries caused from falling and other panic-related wounds.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told the media in a previous press conference that the gunman used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine rifle. Mayor Whaley said the shooter wore a mask covering his face. The mayor added, “If the Dayton police had not gotten to the shooter in under a minute, hundreds of people in the Oregon District would be dead today. This is the 250th mass shooting in America. It’s sad that it’s in the city of Dayton.” The suspect was wearing body armor and had extra magazines on him at the time when he was killed.
Police Chief Biehl said at a press conference that patrol officers in the area for bar closing time heard gunshots about 1:05 a.m. “They observed a large crowd running away from this gunfire,” Biehl said. “The officers immediately advanced toward the gunfire and within approximately 20 seconds they engaged the suspect who was actively firing and attempting to enter a crowded liquor establishment. The threat was neutralized in approximately 30 seconds of the suspect firing his first shots.” Biehl released audio and video from the scene, as well as photos of the weapon used.
2. Ethan Kollie Allegedly Told Federal Agents He ‘Liked Guns’
The complaint alleges that on August 4, agents with the FBI and ATF interviewed Kollie at his apartment in Kettering, Ohio in connection with the mass shooting committed by Betts.
“Kollie indicated that he liked guns and currently owns a handgun and a micro Draco pistol. He also indicated that he purchased body armor and a firearm accessory for Betts earlier this year,” the complaint alleged.
The complaint says Kollie consented to a search. While inside “the agents smelled marijuana and observed, in plain sight, paraphernalia consistent with smoking marijuana, including what appeared to be a ‘bong,’ a drug delivery device commonly used to smoke marijuana,” the complaint alleges.
It further alleges that agents observed a Draco pistol on the counter and Kollie indicated “his handgun was in his bedroom.”
On August 8, 2019, agents interviewed him at work. He advised the FBI that he “was concealed carry,” which they took to mean he was carrying a firearm. They observed a “belt clip of what appeared to be an inside-the-waistband-holster,” the complaint says.
Betts was 24 and from Bellbrook, Ohio. He’d attended some college, and he lived with his parents and sister. Witnesses said he was wearing all black when he opened fire. Betts was killed by police, with six officers firing at least one round, and officials said the carnage might have been even worse were it not for their quick response.
Betts showed an interest in weaponry before the attack.
A woman he briefly dated, Caitlyn “Adelia” Johnson, told The Toledo Blade that he took her to gun ranges and showed her body camera video footage from a mass shooting, causing her to break off the relationship by text message. She also told the newspaper that Betts confided that he was bipolar and had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
The tragedy left at least 27 more injured in a popular bar and restaurant district in Dayton, Ohio.
3. Ethan Kollie Has a Previous Drug Case & Is Accused of Telling Federal Agents He Used Drugs With Connor Betts
Kollie allegedly told the FBI that he and Betts had done “hard drugs,” the complaint alleges – marijuana and acid together four to five times a week during 2014 and 2015. He allegedly said he smoked marijuana every day and had done so since he was 14.
Agents obtained the gun records showing Kollie buying a firearm, the complaint says, adding that he checked no on the form when asked if he was an unlawful user of or addict to marijuana or other drugs.
On August 8, authorities executed a search warrant. They found marijuana in his pocket, and a revolver, alleges the complaint.
He allegedly admitted “being a regular user of illegal drugs, including marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, which he grew in his residence.” Kollie, the complaint alleged, said that he gets energy from mushrooms and finds them fun.
He allegedly stated that he lied about his drug use on the firearms form because otherwise “he knew that if he told the truth about his drug use he would not be allowed to purchase a firearm, so he lied and answered ‘no.’”
Kollie’s past is not blemish-free. According to the Daily News, he pleaded guilty to a 2013 misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in Kettering Municipal Court.
The Daily News noted that the federal firearms form mandates that applicants state whether they are unlawful drug users.
Betts’ own dad weighed in on the Sandy Hook massacre on his Facebook page in 2012. “Saying that discussion about the causes of the massacre is petty is exactly wrong. Trying to understand the causes of this tragedy is the only way to keep it from happening again. And keeping all the other children safe from this kind of crazy is the goal. How many more children have to die before we can have a rational discussion about this?” Steve Betts wrote.
On social media, Connor Betts’ biography started to emerge. On his Twitter page, reviewed by Heavy, Betts described himself as “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” He wrote on Twitter that he would happily vote for Democrat Elizabeth Warren, praised Satan, was upset about the 2016 presidential election results, and added, “I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding.” The Greene County Board of Elections lists his party as “Dem.” You can read a roundup of his tweets – which also dealt with Parkland, Florida and 9/11 – here.
4. Ethan Kollie Worked for a Car Dealer & Wrote That He Went to Sinclair College
On LinkedIn, Kollie wrote that he was a “commercial sales representative” for a local car dealer in the Dayton, Ohio area, a position he said he’d held for two years.
Before that he worked for another car dealer and then as an account manager for a marketing solutions agency in Carmel, Indiana for nine months.
He attended Sinclair Community College, receiving a certificate in real estate sales.
On Facebook, he wrote that he was a real estate agent and a former manager at a sub sandwich restaurant. He wrote tha the studied real estate at Wright State University and went to Kettering Fairmont High School in Ohio. He said he was from Atlanta, Georgia. Kollie’s posts on Facebook date to 2015, though.
Authorities have now named the 9 deceased victims. In addition to Megan Betts (Betts’ sibling identified as a transgender man named Jordan Cofer but was only out to a few people, according to Splinter), they are Lois Oglesby, 27; Saeed Saleh, 38; Logan Turner, 30; Nicholas P. Cumer, 25; Thomas J. McNichols, 25; Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, 36; Monica E. Brickhouse, 39; and Derrick R. Fudge, 57. You can read tributes to the victims here.
5. Kollie Made Gun References on Twitter
A Twitter page in Kollie’s name made gun references.
Posts and retweets advocated for gun rights.
In 2018, he advocated against banning the AR-15.
He replied to a tweet from a page called USA Carry. USA Carry had written, “Do you carry with a round in the chamber?” and Kollie replied on Twitter with a graphic that said, “Uh, yeah.”
He posted this graphic of Trump.
And this retweet on Hillary Clinton:
And this one:
This Kollie retweet includes a photo containing a bear holding a sign that reads “f-ck Trump” and a supposed map of women’s marches around the country:
Kollie retweeted other political posts. He replied to a Twitter user in 2016, writing, “We’ll (sic) hillary will win anyway since it’s rigged, but if it wasn’t, Jill stein is only 4% behind Hillary and 7% behind trump.” And: “there’s always Jill Stein or Gary Johnson.” He retweeted a post in which someone else wrote, “People dead ass so scared of ISIS but they hardly have killed any Americans in this country compared the the USA PD.”
He retweeted a person’s post with a clip of Hillary Clinton saying she’s running for president and the GIF response of “No, God.”
He retweeted a woman’s post in the past in which she wrote, “Saying no won’t stop a rapist. But a 9mm through their head will. #CampusCarryNow #2A.”
Kollie wrote on Twitter: “Dead on! They’re also teaching incorrect information in colleges. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard ‘my economics professor said socialism is our only hope.'” With a post that included a picture of himself, Kollie wrote on Instagram, “If looks could kill, I’m fresh to death ?”
Scanner audio – and multiple Twitter reports – indicated the shooting was focused around Ned Peppers. The Ned Peppers’ website describes it as a “traditional western-ish themed bar located right in the heart of the Oregon District in Dayton Ohio.” The Dayton shooting came just hours after the nation was already reeling from a different mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, where 22 people died.
Ned Peppers wrote on Facebook, “All of our staff is safe and our hearts go out to everyone involved as we gather information.” In a midday press conference on August 4, the governor offered “great sympathy” for the victims and their families. “It’s the type of tragedy you pray never comes to your state.” The governor praised the quick actions of the officers who “ended this tragedy,” saying that they “undoubtedly saved many, many lives. We will never know how many lives were saved…The assailant was obviously close to being able to kill dozens and dozens of more people.”
The police chief said that the deaths would likely have been much higher if the shooter had gotten inside the bar.
So far, the motive for the mass shooting remained elusive. In the El Paso mass shooting only hours before, an anti-immigrant manifesto possibly tied to the gunman there gave clues about motive. In Dayton, there was less of a paper trail pointing toward “why.”
“Clearly, the question has to be, why does Dayton have to be the 250th shooting in America?” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said. “Two hundred and fifty this year. El Paso was 249, Dayton was 250.”
Police Chief Richard Biehl said at an August 4 press conference, “We are very, very early into this investigation. Any suggestion at this time of motive would be irresponsible. We do not have sufficient information to answer the question that everyone wants to know, ‘why?’ We do not have that answer at this time. We will clearly pursue this investigation to try to understand the motivation in this crime, presuming there is a motivation that is understandable. We have a lot of evidence to process through. Much, much investigation is before us.”
Biehl added, “We have not evidence to suggest that there’s a bias motive in this crime at this time.”
On Feb. 14, 2018, Betts tweeted this at Sen. Rob Portman: “@robportman hey rob. How much did they pay you to look the other way? 17 kids are dead. If not now, when?” That was the date of the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida. The Dayton Daily News reported that the shooter also had a very old MySpace account that contained “notebook sketches showing odd phrases handwritten in screamo music-style font” and contained captions saying things like: “All Shall Be Annihilated,” “Bloodlust,” “Absolute Carnage,” and “Bloody Massacre.”